The Ardnamurchan peninsula: Day 1

Yesterday I left the intensive agricultural land of England and headed far north for the west coast of Scotland, to a wild area called Ardnamurchan. I travelled all this way for a a seven day tour of the beautiful highlands, where there would be plenty of unique and interesting wildlife to see.

On arrival it was quite dark as it was about nine o’ clock at night, we managed to find our room and pack some of the equipment away. Already I had encountered the infamous highland midge, which didn’t bite but instead was just a nuisance flying all over my face.

I asked the tour guide if there was anything going on that night and he said he was putting food out for the Pine Martens. Interested, I went to see where the bait was put up and to my amazement, there was a whole room dedicated to watching Pine Martens. I stayed up late and was rewarded when two young Pine Martens came along and started eating and playing.

At the start of every day there is an option to go for an early morning search for Otters at the nearest loch, loch Sunart. Today we were very lucky and we sighted a young male after about ten minutes and then later some cubs. We then headed closer towards it and got really quite close to it, I was also able to take a couple of photos.

After seeing the otters, we headed back for breakfast and looked around a few more sites where otters are regularly seen. Then we headed away from lock Sunart and towards some of the higher parts of Ardnamurchan, stopping at some of the most productive sites for birds of prey, but sadly none could be seen.

Then we drove to Ardnamurchan point, to try and see cetaceans and seabirds. There were a few Gannets diving into the sea and flying across the water. At one point a couple of common seals drifted by where we were having lunch. Perhaps the most exciting animals were the tiny Manx shearwaters that zoomed along the coast about a hundred meters out.

On the way back, vast herds of the gorgeous red deer could be seen in the hills and when we returned, occasionally only a few feet away. The red deer is the largest species in the UK and is significantly larger than the more widespread roe deer. The stags are impressive animals and can antlers almost three feet long and weigh well over a hundred kilos.

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